A public meeting to discuss a state-funded school construction project for schools in the Shenendehowa Central School District featuring safety updates and additions is scheduled for Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. in the library at the Gowana Middle School library. The referendum vote is scheduled for Jan. 16.
Using a new state aid program (EXCEL), the school construction project would come at no cost to taxpayers. The referendum authorizes the district to make critical safety enhancements at each school building. This includes installation of security cameras at the high school, refurbishing middle school auditorium, installing handicap bathrooms in several buildings, replacement of 50-year-old boilers, replacement of certain roof areas that leak, reconstructing gym walls to address some sizable cracks at several elementary schools, as well as other program expansion needs. The remainder of the funds will be used to offset the increase in costs of the voter-authorized middle school project (classrooms, pool and expanded library) that came in over budget due to an increase in steel and concrete costs.
Shenendehowa was appropriated $3,082,825 in an EXCEL grant by the state legislature. EXCEL stands for Expanding our Children's Education and Learning. It is a new program to provide additional funding for certain types of school construction. Shenendehowa is reimbursed by state building aid for a total of $5.76 million or 70 percent of each dollar spent for the proposed $8.2 million referendum. When that building aid reimbursement is combined with the $3 million in EXCEL funds, it winds up costing local property taxpayers nothing.